by Catherine Wilson, Editor

According to the austere Encyclopedia Britannica, fortune telling is “the forecasting of future events or the delineation of character by methods not ordinarily considered to have a rational basis. Evidence indicates that forms of fortune telling were practiced in ancient China, Egypt, Chaldea and Baylonia as long ago as 4,000 BC. Prophetic dreams and oracular utterances played an important part in ancient religion and medicine.”

I checked my Korean zodiac sign today. My symbol is the ‘boar.’ I determine this to be in no way less insulting than my Chinese zodiac symbol, the pig. Anyway, it says I’m trustworthy, altruistic, intelligent and a model of sincerity. It also says I’m prone to the occasional fit of rage and that a trip to the north, south or east will result in an accident (which will explain my absence from trade shows this year).

Next, I checked the Chinese fortune-telling calendar. My lucky element is water (only funny to those who know of my irrational fear of deep water); the northern direction is my lucky spot, and 9pm to 1am are my lucky hours. Also,

My lucky color is black (apparently especially between 9 and 1)

I should wear black often (I do)

Driving a black car will bring me luck (I do)

For my health, I musn’t scare myself (can’t be avoided)

For my health, I sometimes need cold weather (I have yet to need cold weather)

For my health, I shouldn’t go out in cold weather too long (no need to tell me twice).

Predicting the future is always a hit-and-miss proposition. Alan Kay, a Fellow at Apple Computer, tells an anecdote about John Dessauer, an executive at Haloid Corp., the tiny company that became Xerox. The story goes that in 1956, after years of effort, Dessauer built the prototype of the plain paper copier. Lacking the money to get the copier to market, he talked to the folks at IBM. IBM hired consultants. After an 18-month study, the consultants produced a very thick report that proved conclusively that there was absolutely no market for a plain paper copier. It seems the xerographic process cost more per copy than the mimeograph process. So, based on their report, IBM turned down the copier offer.

Marshall McLuhan had a line to try to explain our shortsightedness. He said, “I don’t know who discovered water, but it wasn’t a fish.” Part of what he meant was that if you’re immersed in the context, you have a tough time seeing the bigger picture. He also said, ” We’re driving faster and faster into the future, trying to steer by using only the rear-view mirror.”

The Future of Dentistry is DPM’s first annual ‘virtual’ roundtable featuring leaders of Canada’s dental industry. We wanted industry experts to share their insights with us, thereby helping you see the bigger picture.

If you want a fortune teller, try the circus.